Absolutely No Cost Fire Starters
Absolutely No Cost Fire Starters
I like to play with fire. I like all aspects of building a fire, from gathering and stacking the wood in the fire pit, to lighting the kindling, to stoking it as it burns. It’s just calming. I’m either in a metal tube, a stinky airport, or a stuffy hotel room most of my time at work. And fires don’t whine or complain. My poor guy has become accustomed to my pent-upness and, being the sweetheart he is, will sit outside in most any kind of weather to let me unwind.
We have a fire pit down by the lake. Nothing extraordinary. Rocks in a circle on the ground. Very Fred Flintstone-ish. It will accommodate logs large enough to make a fair-sized bonfire. There are lawn chairs and logs for sitting. It’s only a few feet from the water, so you can hear the waves slap against the seawall after a boat comes by. I love it.
Up on the deck, we have a chiminea. There is a covered deck across the back of the house which wraps around each side of the house. The sides are uncovered. We’ve put the chiminea at one end and can sit by a fire under shelter even when it rains. It takes small logs and limbs. Its perfect for two when you don’t want the trouble of a large fire. I love it, too. See the wet circle on the deck? It’s starting to rain. Yippee!
For large fires, we’ll use a little gas and kindling to start the fire. For the chiminea we use fire starters and small dry twigs. It all works very well.
I Googled “homemade fire starters” and within .52 seconds I had 431,000 results. You don’t really need me to tell you how to make your own homemade fire starters. There are 431,000 other people out there who can.
What I will tell you is a secret in the DIY world. You will find that secret below.
But, first, I will tell you how I made these fire starters absolutely free using leftovers around the house. Redundant, I know. Number 431,001.
You will need:
sweet gum balls (or 2″ broken twigs)
cardboard egg carton
(This is the free part. All of these things are leftovers or lying around the house going to waste.)
a small can
a small pot
Cut each pocket in the egg carton apart. (This is the scissors & knife part.) I don’t think Styrofoam or plastic egg cartons would work . . . for obvious reasons. Plastic melts. It doesn’t burn.
You’ll need one sweet gum ball and bits of old lint in each egg pocket.
If you should be one of those most fortunate people in this world without a nearby sweet gum tree, use a few dry twigs or pine straw broken up to fit into pockets. Saw dust or wood chips will work. Anything to use as small kindling.
BTW? Sweet gum trees are great shade trees. A healthy, mature sweet gum is tall and full of leaves and, in the hot summer months, provides wonderful shade. They also provide balls. Balls from hell. Prickly, little round balls that roll on the ground, hell bent on making you slip and slide when you walk. One tree will turn the yard into a mine field of danger. Unless you’re six years old. Six-year-olds see Christmas! They see all of these little balls just waiting to be painted and sprinkled with glitter for Christmas ornaments.
I’ve been saving dryer lint and the used static sheets in a plastic bag for this project. I have enough here for 4-5 dozen fire starters. Wrap dryer lint around each sweet gum ball and place in pocket. I set each pocket in another egg carton pocket to hold them until I was finished.
Used dryer lint tells a lot about a person. From this dryer lint you can tell that I sort my clothes, washing darks and lights separately, and I clean my filter after each wash, or else the dark and light lint would be mingled together from build up. Also, if you look closely, you can see I losing my hair from all of the long strands sticking out of the lint.
Melt the old candles in the can sitting in the pot with 1″ water on the stove on medium high heat. (This is the can and pot part.)
I used one large candle.
Specifically, this candle.
To give you an idea of how much wax you’ll need–each starter needs about as much wax as in 2-3 birthday candles. I used an old Popsicle stick to stir the wax and to press on the lint balls after I’d poured the wax on each one.
This method of melting wax does not work:
One more thing on candles: Some candles are wrapped in a colored waxy-feeling plastic. I’ve had these so long I forget, but I probably bought them at Tuesday Morning. I cut the candle in pieces to fit inside the can. I noticed the waxy covering, but assumed it would melt like regular wax. It did not. It melted into a white glump which had to be tossed. It peeled off easily before I melted the next chunks of candle.
Drizzle wax straight from the can, a little at a time, over each lint ball, making several passes. When each are soaked with wax, let cool. Toss in a bag until ready to use.
Now for the secret:
Fire starters cost $1.00 a piece on Amazon and that’s on Amazon Prime with free delivery. They can be at your house– with you doing little more than hitting a few clicks on your computer– in 48 hours. One little brick will start 2-3 fires. It took me an hour from start to finish to make 18 of these suckers. If I were to do it again, I could go a lot faster and make more in the same amount of time by having everything ready and knowing what I was doing.
But, this was the first time I’d ever done this.
I thought, “Why not use sweet gum balls as the wood kindling in each one?”
Go outside to pick up sweet gum balls
Then, I asked myself, “Where are those old candles that went wompyjawed?”
Which I found, after 5 minutes of searching logical places,
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>outside under a chair on the deck
Next, I said to myself, “What did you do with those egg cartons that were too good to throw away?”
Rummaged under the kitchen sink for those
After that, “I don’t want wax in my pot. What can I use?”
Opened a can of Coke
See? All of this thinking takes time. Next time, I’ll be faster.
And that’s the secret.
There. Will. Be. No. Next. Time.
Look at the mess. There’s another counter on the other side of the kitchen just like it.
And cleaning all of that up is not counted in the time it took to make them!
I guess I lied to you. They’re not absolutely free. They cost time. Too much time for me.
Then again, my guy started us a fire tonight and said, “I know those little fire starters were a mess to make, but they work really well.”
So, who knows? If I do, I’ll let you know if it goes better the next time.
PS . . .
Did you know . . .
Today is tax day. Of course, you did. It’s one of our most reviled days of the year.
West Virginia collects an additional “Sparkler and Novelty Registration Tax—but it’s illegal to light most fireworks in the state.
California adds a 33% tax to fresh fruit bought from a vending machine.
New York doesn’t tax whole bagels, but if the baker cuts it in half, it gets taxed.
England taxes every TV you own. They spend the money on the BBC. Color TVs are taxed at a higher rate than black & white TVs. And blind people only pay half. There were 155,000 fines/convictions in 2012. BUT! And I learned this from a British friend of mine, they don’t pay for cable.
This makes so much sense! This is so fair!
Don’t you just love taxes?